Dalić as Croatia manager at the 2018 FIFA World Cup
|Date of birth||26 October 1966|
|Place of birth||Livno, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive midfielder|
|NK Troglav 1918 Livno|
|1998||→ Varteks (loan)||11||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Zlatko Dalić (Croatian pronunciation: [zlâtko dǎːlitɕ]; born 26 October 1966) is a Croatian football manager and former footballer who played as a defensive midfielder. He currently manages the Croatia national team. He led the national team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final wherein they reached their highest-ever Elo ranking (1,973 points) and highest-ever positioning in the history of Croatia, securing second place to France.
After ending his playing career in 2000 he became assistant coach at Varteks. From May 2002 to May 2005 Dalić worked as club's sports director, and during the 2003–04 and 2004–05 seasons he simultaneously acted as assistant coach for Miroslav Blažević.
In May 2005 he was appointed manager of Varteks and in his first season at the helm he won third place in the Croatian First League and reached the final of the Croatian Football Cup. In the first leg of the final, which was played in Rijeka, Varteks lost 0–4 to HNK Rijeka. In the second leg in Varaždin, Dalić nearly created a sensation leading the team to a 5–1 win, but they were one goal short from lifting the silverware.
In the 2008–09 season Dalić managed Albanian champions Dinamo Tirana, with whom he won the Albanian Supercup. He resigned in February 2009 after losing two derbies in a row versus fellow capital teams Tirana and Partizani.
In the 2010–11 season he became coach of Al-Faisaly (Harmah), a new team in the Saudi Professional League. At the end of the 2010–11 season under Dalić the club enjoyed the greatest success in its history, qualifying for the King's Cup in Saudi Professional League. He was named Coach of the Year in the Saudi Professional League for the 2010–11 season by Al Riyadh newspapers. In the selection, he beat other more famous coaches working in Saudi Arabia at the time, such as Gabriel Calderón, Walter Zenga and Eric Gerets.
On 3 May 2012 Dalić signed a contract with Al-Hilal to manage Al-Hilal B. On 30 January Al-Hilal agreed with Dalić to coach the first club following the sacking of Antoine Kombouaré. On 9 February 2013 he made his managerial debut with Al-Hilal against his old club Al-Faisaly in the semi-final of the 2012–13 Saudi Crown Prince Cup. Dalić eventually led Al-Hilal to the cup title - the club's sixth consecutive win - which was also Dalić's second major title in his coaching career. As manager of Al-Hilal, he was ranked 13th best coach in the world, in March 2013 for that month. During the 2013–14 season, he was the main candidate for the position of sports director at Croatian powerhouse HNK Hajduk Split, but turned down the offer from one of the biggest club in Croatian football.
On 8 March 2014, Dalić was appointed as head coach of Al Ain FC in the United Arab Emirates after the club had sacked Quique Flores. Later on, he led Al Ain to finish top of their group in the AFC Champions League 2014, which was the first time since 2006 that the club progressed through the group stage. On 30 April 2014, Al Ain announced that Dalić would be their head coach for the next two seasons. At the Round of 16 stage of the AFC Champions League 2014, Al-Ain played versus Emirati side Al Jazira Club led by Walter Zenga, and won both games with 4–2 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.
On 18 May 2014, Al-Ain won the final game of UAE President's Cup against league champions Al Ahli 1–0, which was played at the Zayed Sports City Stadium. This was Dalić's second trophy in two years in the Middle East and the third major honour in his coaching career. This game marked the end of the season, and it was Al-Ain's 12th match in a row without defeat since Dalić's arrival.
At the start of the second season in charge of Al-Ain, Dalić's team won both games in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League 2014 with results 2–0 and 3–1 against Al Ittihad FC. In the semi-finals Al-Ain lost the first match versus Dalić's former club Al-Hilal at the King Fahd International Stadium with a 0–3 result. In the second leg of the semi-finals the result was 2–1, and Al-Ain was knocked out.
At the end of the year Dalić won the title of Best Coach of 2014 by the analyist and pundits of all major local Emirati newspapers. At the end of the first round of the UAE Pro-League, Al–Ain took the first position with one game in hand.
On 6 May 2015 Al–Ain ended the 2015 AFC Champions League group phase topping Group B with 12 points, four points more than runners-up Naft Tehran F.C. without losing a single game. This was Dalić's third consecutive year in the AFC Champions League, and in all three seasons his team proceeded to the play-off phase of the competition.
Al-Ain won their 12th UAE Pro-League title in the 2014–15 UAE Pro-League, which they secured three rounds before the end of the season. At the official end of the league, on 11 May they had 11 points more than runners-up Al Jazira Club and Al Shabab (Dubai). They lost only two games in the whole season, which meant they had been unbeaten 23 league matches in a row with an impressive goal difference of +43. In this season they achieved several records of the season - they conceded fewest goals, they had the longest unbeaten run counting 15 matches, the longest winning run counting 8 matches, and the biggest home win versus Ajman Club, 7-1.
On 12 July 2015 Dalić was crowned with the "Coach of the Year" title during the UAE Pro-League Award ceremony for the 2014–15 UAE Pro-League season. Award ceremony was held at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi Corniche.
As a part of the pre-season preparation, Al-Ain on 8 August 2015 played a match versus Wydad Casablanca in a sold-out Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, Morocco. Match was part of the UAE-Morocco Supercup (also in Arabic media it was named Friendship Cup). Al-Ain won the game after a penalty shoot-out, after regular time ended with a score of 3-3. Winners of the trophy received US$700,000 while runner-up received US$300,000.
First match of the new 2015–16 season was played on 15 August at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It was a UAE Supercup match between last year's league champions,Al-Ain, and winners of the UAE President Cup, Al Nassr from Dubai. Al-Ain won the match with the result 4–2. This was Dalić's fourth trophy in Al-Ain in two years as their coach.
With the 3–0 win against Al-Ahli Dubai F.C. in the 10th round of the UAE Pro-League on 5 December, Dalić became the best coach in league's history since it turned professional. After 12 rounds in the 2015–16 season, Dalić's Al-Ain won 47 out of 70 matches under his leadership, drawing 15 and losing 8, which meant that he was unbeated in 88% of the matches.
In the Football Database ranking, Al Ain FC was ranked 335th club in the world with 1468 points in March 2014, but then, since Dalić arrived, the club continuously climbed the rankings and in December 2015 reached 122nd place in the world with 1575 points. In less than two years, club climbed more than 200 places on the rankings and reached 5th best position in Asia according to the rankings.
On 7 October 2017, following the sacking of Ante Čačić due to a series of poor results, the Croatian Football Federation named Dalić as the head coach of the Croatia national football team. Upon arriving, Dalić announced that he would only remain head coach if Croatia qualifies for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and that the HNS would be deciding his future if Croatia miss out on qualifying for the finals.
2018 FIFA World Cup
On 9 October, Dalić led Croatia to a 2–0 win over Ukraine in 2018 World Cup qualifying, which also secured second place in their group, and a place in the play-off round. On 19 October, Dalić named Ivica Olić, former Croatia international player, as his assistant manager. Croatia drew Greece in the play-off round, and on 9 November, Dalić led the team to a 4–1 first-leg triumph over Greece, all but securing a place in the 2018 World Cup. In the return leg, on 12 November, Croatia drew with Greece 0–0, and won 4–1 on aggregate, thus securing a place in the World Cup finals. Following this, Dalić officially signed a contract with the Croatian Football Federation, running until 30 July 2020, and would reportedly earn around €500k per year.
Croatia drew a challenging group, with the likes of Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland. On 16 June 2018, Croatia won their opening match of the 2018 World Cup, beating Nigeria by a scoreline of 2–0. However, during the game, Nikola Kalinić had refused to come on as a late substitute, citing a back injury as his excuse, although he had used this excuse earlier during a friendly match against Brazil, as well as the previous training session. This prompted Dalić to send him home on just the fifth day of the tournament. Dalić stated that he needed "prepared players, while Kalinić didn't show up at three occasions." Dalić received praise for his treatment of Kalinić, with some stating that he had "cemented his position" as head coach with this decision. On 21 June, Croatia overwhelmed football heavyweights Argentina, beating them by a scoreline of 3–0, with Ante Rebić, Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić scoring the goals. The victory led Croatia to a spot in the knockout stage for the first time since the 1998 FIFA World Cup, in which they finished third place. On 26 June, Croatia topped their group with maximum points following a 2–1 win over Iceland, and drew Denmark in the round of sixteen, advancing after a penalty shootout. Croatia again won through a penalty shootout against hosts Russia in the quarter-finals, setting up a semi-final tie against England. On 11 July, Croatia beat England 2–1, advancing to the final, where they lost 4–2 to France on 15 July 2018.
Dalić was born in Livno, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina to Ivan and Kata Dalić, but he lives and works in Croatia, and has Croatian citizenship. In 1992, he married Davorka Propadalo, with whom he has two sons, Toni and Bruno. Dalić is a practising Roman Catholic.
- As of match played 15 July 2018
|Varteks||May 2005||May 2007||80||34||12||34||42.50||134||135||-1|
|Rijeka||Jun 2007||Jun 2008||37||15||12||10||40.54||57||47||+10|
|Al-Hilal||February 2013||May 2013||18||11||3||4||61.11||30||19||+11|
|Al-Ain||March 2014||January 2017||107||67||25||15||62.62||215||99||+116|
|Croatia||7 October 2017||Present||14||8||3||3||57.14||23||15||+8|
- Croatian Cup runner-up: 2005–06
- Albanian Supercup: 2008
- UAE President's Cup: 2013–14
- UAE Pro-League: 2014–15
- UAE Super Cup: 2015
- AFC Champions League runner-up: 2016
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